Does Renters Insurance Cover Laptop Damage?

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  • Does Renters Insurance Cover Laptop Damage?

Many people haven’t the slightest idea that renters insurance can be used to repair or replace a damaged or destroyed laptop, but certain stipulations must apply. Since renters insurance averages about $15 per month across the United States, it’s worth purchasing a policy for the laptop coverage alone. Let’s dig deeper into the ways your laptop is and isn’t covered by your renters insurance policy.

Does Renters Insurance Cover Laptop Damage?

Renters insurance covers laptop damage — even when it’s away from your home — if the damage was caused by one of the many covered perils in renters insurance policies. Depending on your policy, laptops will likely have a maximum payout of $1,500 to $2,500 per claim. But you may schedule high-value computers if you need more coverage.

But as we mentioned earlier, your laptop must have incurred one of the following 16 perils commonly covered by renters insurance policies:

  1. Vandalism
  2. Theft
  3. Frozen pipes
  4. Damage caused by vehicles
  5. Damage caused by aircraft
  6. Rioting or civil disturbances
  7. Fire or lightning
  8. Windstorm or hail, such as a hurricane or tornado
  9. Damage from smoke
  10. Damage caused by heating, air conditioning or plumbing
  11. Damage due to snow, ice or sleet
  12. Damage from water heater, including cracks, burns or tears
  13. Damage from electrical current, such as downed powerlines
  14. Explosions
  15. Falling objects
  16. Volcanic eruptions

Your laptop will be covered under the personal property portion of your renters policy. You’ll need to enroll in as much coverage as you need to protect all your personal belongings — just in case something like a house fire rips through the home you’re renting and all of your belongings are destroyed.

The best way to determine the value of your belongings is to create a home contents list that includes the cost of each item, a picture and, if applicable, the original receipt. This not only makes it easier to determine your coverage maximum, but it makes the claims process much easier if you need to file a renters insurance claim.

But just because you have $20,000 worth of belongings and enroll in $20,000 worth of personal property coverage, that doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll receive a claims payout of $20,000 if all of your belongings are destroyed. And the same can be said about your laptop.

A $2,500 laptop may not garner a $2,500 payout because you’ll either get the actual cash value or replacement cost of your laptop, as determined by your carrier. Let’s take a deeper dive into what you need to know when figuring out how much renters insurance you need for your laptop.

Actual Cash Value vs. Replacement Cost Coverage

The two types of personal belongings coverage you can choose from are actual cash value and replacement cost. Replacement cost coverage is straightforward. If you suffer a covered loss to your laptop (or any other personal belongings), your insurer will simply cut you a check for the exact price you purchased it for — minus your deductible.

Actual cash value, on the other hand, takes depreciation into account when determining your payout. There is no actual cash value formula utilized across insurers, but we’ll give you a basic breakdown that represents what you can expect.

Let’s say your $2,000 laptop that you bought five years ago gets stolen from your apartment. Since theft is covered by renters insurance, you’d need to file a claim, talk with an adjuster, prove you actually owned the item and your insurer would either cut you a check to purchase a new laptop or reimburse you for a newly purchased laptop.

Let’s also assume you have a $500 deductible. If you have replacement cost coverage, your insurer would pay you $1,500 for the stolen laptop (its full $2,000 value minus your $500 deductible). That math is simple enough.

If you have actual cash value coverage (ACV), your insurer could deem the lifespan of a laptop to be 10 years. Since you’ve already had it for five years, that $2,000 laptop is only worth $1,000 in the eyes of your insurer. After you pay your $500 deductible, you’d only get reimbursed $500.

In the latter example of ACV coverage, if your laptop was the only affected piece of property, you’d probably be better off paying out of pocket for a new laptop instead of filing a claim. Insurance claims stay on your record for about five years and each claim filed can increase your premiums.

But what happens if you own a gaming laptop or another high-value version? Well, that coverage looks slightly different. Many renters policies cap coverage at $1,500 to $2,500 for laptops, computers and electronics. In that case, you’d have to get a special add-on to be fully covered.

Extra Coverage for High-Value Laptops

If you have a high-value laptop that extends beyond your insurer’s coverage limits, that means you must purchase an add-on to your policy. Depending on your insurer, it’s either named an endorsement or scheduled personal property coverage — but they’re theoretically the same thing.

All this does is extend your coverage limit per item, in this case per laptop or computer, to its current value. So if your laptop is worth $5,000 and your insurer covers up to $2,500 for a laptop, you’d need an additional endorsement or schedule limit that extends it another $2,500. You wouldn’t be paying the full $5,000 endorsement because you already have half of it covered.

If you own two laptops worth $5,000 each, you’d need to add two separate endorsements or schedules for $2,500 each. Each endorsement or schedule only applies to that particular item. So even if you have an endorsement on laptop A, it wouldn’t cover damage to laptop B.

Does Renters Insurance Cover Water Damage to a Laptop?

Yes, renters insurance covers water damage to a laptop, but that damage must have occurred suddenly and accidentally. So your laptop would have coverage if a pipe burst in your home and spewed water on your laptop. But you wouldn’t be covered if you spilled a glass of water on your laptop.

If the culprit of water damage happened to be a flood, you also wouldn’t be covered because no home insurance policy covers flooding. You’d have to purchase a separate flood insurance policy for that.

Does Renters Insurance Cover Accidental Damage to Laptops?

As long as the accidental damage wasn’t caused by you directly, such as dropping your laptop, and it was caused by one of the 16 covered perils, accidental damage to laptops is covered by renters insurance. So a kitchen fire spreading to your laptop, a hurricane whisking away your laptop or a tree falling on your laptop would all likely be covered by your renters insurance.

How to File an Insurance Claim for a Stolen Laptop

Filing an insurance claim for a stolen laptop is easy. Simply notify your insurer of the damage, submit any pictures and videos of the laptop, wait for an adjuster to contact you, pay your deductible and your insurer will pay you the allotted amount for the stolen laptop.

If you don’t have proof of owning the laptop, such as pictures or a receipt, you may be required to download a bank statement of the purchase and corroborate with the store you purchased it from. Fraud commonly occurs in stolen item claims, so your insurer will need some kind of proof before cutting a check. Remember that insurance fraud can result in a fine and time in prison.

Protect Your Belongings With Renters Insurance

Averaging just $12 per month, renters insurance can protect your belongings for the cost of a few cups of coffee.

The editorial content on Clovered’s website is meant to be informational material and should not be considered legal advice.

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